‘It is possible to live a life where you do not hire people to abuse and kill animals (after all, we are animals, too)’

Everyday Vegans
An occasional series in which ordinary people
talk about living a plant-based life


Our latest contributor, a blogger who writes as ‘M’ known as Butterflies Katz, 61, from Florida in the US, became a vegan at a time when even vegetarians were few and far between. It’s been a long journey

‘M’ known as Butterflies KatzI have been an unwavering strict vegan for 40 years. I was a vegetarian for 10 years prior to that, because I didn’t realise back then (before the internet) that the least stance we can take not to participate in animal exploitation is veganism, not vegetarianism.

I was 12 years of age when my brother told me that ‘meat’ was a dead animal, and that was the last time a morsel of meat entered my mouth, even disguised. (I never did get the mind-set that eating a corpse is delicious!). Early on I started preparing my own food, as my family was not vegan or vegetarian.

When I was 21, a clerk at a health shop handed me a magazine published by the American Vegan Society. I was specifically moved by the information that humans steal new-born calves away from their bellowing mothers so they can steal their milk. The name of the magazine was Ahimsa, which means nonviolence in Sanskrit.

I immediately rid my closet of leather, and became a staunch vegan, for the animals, and for nonviolence, as per the literal definition of veganism.

Veganism extends beyond diet to all products and practices, and is a way of life that seeks non-participation with animal exploitation – for any purpose – as much as is reasonably possible. While there may be rewards or benefits of vegan living for personal or planetary health, the actual reason/definition pertains to not exploiting animals.

I am, so far, a healthy vegan. I am not a super athlete, but I don’t have any diseases, take no meds, don’t go to doctors. At age 61, I have plenty of energy to propel me through the days. Of course I will never go back to being an omnivore: once you ‘get it, there’s no going back.

I eat what I want, though I choose to eat healthier ingredients and foods that contain the nutrients that vegans may lack. I have chosen my food choices scientifically. For example, I would include tempeh in my diet because it is the highest vegan food source of L-carnitine. I drink carrot juice because it’s the best source of beta carotene, which converts to Vitamin A. I eat salads with baby kale, as opposed to lettuce, as there is much more nutrition in the kale. Greens are a staple food and I avoid greens with oxalic acid. I drink coffee, so to combat the acidity, I eat a lot of watermelon; medicinally. I use food as my medicine. Because pharmaceuticals are tested on animals, I have rarely taken them.

I should also mention that I eat plenty of junk food. But I try to lean towards the healthier ingredient junk food, as in whole spelt flour instead of wheat flour, organic canola oil, organic sugar and no white refined sugar. When I lived in northern New Zealand for 17 years, I could not get vegan junk foods, and rarely ate processed vegan foods/junk food. I was not able to enjoy So Delicious cashew ice cream, Vegenaise, or vegan cheese – but I did enjoy being 20 pounds thinner!

I don’t worry about protein. Never have. It’s in many foods and I eat foods that contain complete protein such as buckwheat, quinoa, and hemp seeds. I also eat tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils… not a lot, but I fit it into my diet to be sure that I am receiving ample protein.

I went vegan at a time when basically no one was vegan. I was very alone; I never heard of or met another vegan (or even vegetarian in those years). Obviously, I walk this path not caring if I’m different. I’m different in a good way. I am exemplifying to the human race that we can live a vegan life and not hire people to abuse and kill animals (after all, we are animals, too).

I lived in a vegan community for 35 years – most of my adult life – so I had plenty of like-minded friends. I was a volunteer who taught the public about the lifestyle. I grew large vegan organic gardens, Continue reading →

One of the classiest places to get superb vegan food in Munich

Max Pett meal

Fluffy and full of flavour: the chickpea omelette at Max Pett in Munich

Restaurant review: Max Pett, Munich

For a really laid-back atmosphere and delightful plant-based food in Munich, Germany, Max Pett  is a first-rate bet.

I truly loved this place. We went for brunch on a Saturday morning, shortly after opening time, as seems to be our habit. Me, I had the chickpea omelette, which was so full of taste, fluffy and light that I’ve been trying to recreate it in my own kitchen (with little success) ever since.

In fairness, I made the better choice. My companion plumped for the white sausage with brezl, which when it arrived – two pale sausages paddling in a bowl of boiling water and a large pretzel on the side – confused us both so much that for the first time in my life I had absolutely no idea how he should approach it.

Max Pett meal

Baffling: Max Pett’s white sausage and brezl should come with eating instructions

There was no spoon, so we figured it wasn’t a soup, and the sausages came in what seemed like an inedible skin from which they required freeing. Listen, he did the best he could; after a bit of squeezing, the flayed little blighters plopped out onto the saucer next to the provided mustard, and he assures me that the bread was good. Before we left, we spotted the young woman next to us ordering the same meal, which she greeted with equal perplexity.

There was no confusion, however, surrounding the Kaiserschmarrn, an ample portion for two huge appetites of warm fruity cosy stodginess served with apple sauce, plus a creamy hot chocolate and a chai latte to drink.

The whole experience – we sat outside on the quiet street surrounded by greenery, but inside also looked like a place it’d be good to settle into and spend some time – was super-relaxing. Busy, but somehow still the vibe was very calm.

I was left with the feeling that I’d like to explore the rest of the menu. A little pricey perhaps, but friendly service and wholesome food makes it worth it.

Max Pett meal

Sweet perfection: the Kaiserschmarrn at Max Pett is truly special

Forget the overpriced hotel breakfast – here’s one of the tastiest ways to start a day in Vienna

Veggiez meal

Hot stuff: Gyros wrap and chips with wasabi mayonnaise at Veggiez, Vienna

Restaurant review: Veggiez, Vienna

Another burgeoning Austrian ‘chain’ of vegan restaurants is Veggiez, which began in 2015, currently has two branches in Vienna, and is on the lookout for potential franchise investors.

Veggiez  has a large menu, including a lot of gluten-free choices, from soups and toast options, through salads to a range of burgers, wraps and bowls. It bills itself as ‘your vegan dining rooms’ and takes pride in the quality of flavour and good quality organics ingredients. It caters for what it claims are the 13% of Austrians and 16% of Germans who lead a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian lifestyle; the numbers are growing, it says.

Desperate for breakfast, and staying at a hotel virtually opposite the Opernring branch, where the €30 breakfast offered us little more than dry bread and a banana, we were pretty much standing outside the doors when it opened at 11 o’clock on a Friday morning.

Although we were the first people there, it quickly filled up. This didn’t affect our seat by the window, but meant things got a smidgen tight for some of the diners. That said, there are plenty of seats at this place, both inside and out.

Between us we ate the smokey burger and the gyros wrap, both served with absolutely amazing chips and a superb wasabi mayonnaise. The coffee was also great tasting: I had a latte with almond milk, my companion had a black Americano. Having read various reviews before going in, neither of us could resist the chocolate muffin with a crumble topping and cherry filling for dessert. We weren’t disappointed.

Add good service and decent prices to the equation and visiting Veggiez was an excellent experience.

Vegan food that sure means a thing (and it’s definitely got that swing)

Schillinger's Swing Kitchen meal

Fast and tasty: Swiss wrap and Vienna burger with fries at Schillinger’s Swing Kitchen in Vienna

Restaurant review: Schillinger’s Swing Kitchen

Schillinger’s Swing Kitchen was a consistently good source of top-notch vegan food during a recent European train trip, with a sufficiently varied menu to ensure that we returned to refuel on several occasions across a couple of different Austrian cities.

Started in January 2015, Schillinger’s Swing Kitchen  now has six Austrian branches, plus two in Berlin, Germany, and one in Bern, Switzerland, all with the same well-produced menu of fast food wraps and burgers, salads, and desserts. If ever a vegan chain were set to rival similar omnivore businesses, this place would be it.

The company is owned by the Schillinger family. Charly, whose family background is in the restaurant trade, worked for years in the financial industry, and turned vegan 20 years ago, and his wife Irene had a vision to recreate the flavours of traditional Austrian dishes in a plant-based menu, and this is reflected, for example, in their Schnitzel burger, and in an almond cake with chocolate-pudding cream topped with a nougat-icing and decorated with chocolate and almond-nougat balls. After the existing family business, the Gasthaus Schillinger established in 1793, successfully turned vegan, they began their Swing Kitchen, hoping to present environmentally-friendly burgers and other fast food to the masses.

And that’s exactly what they are doing. We visited the Opernring branch in Vienna, and later became serial customers at the newly-opened franchise in Graz. Between us we tried four of the seven types of burgers – honestly, they were all good and a preference would purely be based on individual taste – the Swiss wrap, which was my personal go-to meal almost every time, with its mix of hash browns and hot cauliflower, and, when we were in need of more vegetables and less fried food, the Nugget salad. The garlic dip was amazing, especially with the French fries. The meal deals worked out at around 10 Euros each and included a drink.

And all this delicious food was served in a crisp clean environment to a soundtrack of 1930s and 40s jazz/swing. Branches all have a live display above the counter of resources saved compared to a similar meat burger restaurant. Not sure how that works, but maybe it simply shows a heart in the right place, for a company that uses no plastics, Fairtrade ingredients only, and boasts that its foods all have 0% cholesterol.

We’ll be back.

Schillinger's Swing Kitchen Graz

Eat with a beat: Schillinger’s Swing Kitchen in Graz, Austria

12,000 march in London to highlight cruelty – and environmental destruction – of industrial farming

Did your food scream?

I’m not a great one for being in a crowd; not much of a “joiner”, full stop. And yet yesterday I happily found myself joining the 12,000-odd vegans walking through London for this year’s Animal Rights March.

I went along out of interest, as a way of getting out of my comfort zone, and ended up loving it. It felt like the right thing to do, being part of this big transient community made up of people from many walks of life but with this one thing in common: a desire to end the industrial-scale slaughter of sentient beings to satisfy the taste buds of people socialised to believe that the flesh and secretions of animals are essential to their health.

But what’s the point of a march like this? It’s not as if the government and its paymasters in the highly subsidised agriculture industry are going to say, yes, of course, it’s madness, how could we not see, let’s stop it. And it’s not as if people are going to turn vegan en masse. This is a long haul.

Animal Rights March London 2019

The point is simply to highlight the cruelty of the meat and dairy industries in public, demonstrating in our thousands that this vegan thing is not some trendy, passing bullshit peddled by an irrelevant minority of hipsters and freaks.

We march down the streets of the city centre, a colourful, noisy spectacle, from toddlers to the very old, and people on the pavements whip their phones out and film and take photos and wonder what the hell’s going on. Some mock, but not many. And some appear to be discussing what they see.

And if just one of those people is inspired to find out a little more about why a few thousand get off their backsides on a Saturday afternoon to call for an end to the barbarism of industrial farming, and perhaps even ends up living a plant-based life, I’d say that’s enough, job done.

Animal Rights March London 2019, Trafalgar Square

But I suspect the seed gets planted in more than just one mind. I certainly hope so. Because this is not just about cruelty and the hope of a more compassionate world. It’s increasingly about our ravaged planet; the big business of industrial farming is making a significant contribution to global warming, and giving up meat and dairy is one of the easiest ways to help do something about that, if only it could be done on a large enough scale.

So yes, for this natural loner, helping to plant maybe one little mind seed is a good enough reason to get up and join in for a change.

If you’re not a vegan, I’d encourage you to investigate a bit. Maybe check out this article  and Google out from it, exploring some of the questions it might provoke in you. The films Cowspiracy (it costs a small amount to download but is available on Netflix if you use that service) and Dominion (free to stream) are also worth a watch, as is this five-minute look at the dairy industry.

Animal Rights March London 2019, Trafalgar Square

Of course, for all the pro-vegan information out there, you’ll find plenty from the other side, particularly with the well-funded meat and dairy industries feeling beleaguered with the growth of veganism and fighting for their lives. Consider it all. Absorb lots of information. And most of all, think for yourself as you assess it.

If you have pets, it’s interesting to meditate on what the difference between a dog, say, and a cow is. It’s hard to break free from the cultural programming to which each of us is subjected from birth on, but there’s a certain liberation to be had in at least trying.

And even if you end up dismissing veganism, no worries. The most important thing is that you base your decision on consideration of facts, not simply what you’ve been brought up to believe.

Animal Rights March London 2019

If you’re interested in participating in direct action, the next wave of climate-change protests in London will involve a blockade of the UK’s largest meat market; more information here.

‘People are naturally kind – we just need to show that animal agriculture doesn’t align with this’

Everyday Vegans
A series in which ordinary people talk about living a plant-based life


Our latest contributor is Ekaterina, a Russian physics student who believes that veganism is a cornerstone of sustainable living

Everyday Vegan EkaterinaTell us a little about yourself…
I’m 24 and currently finishing my master’s degree in physics in Moscow, Russia. I moved away from home two years ago and now I live with my boyfriend. In my free time I like to volunteer at various events, mostly focused on being more sustainable; my favourite is helping out with recycling at a vegan market every month. I also really enjoy vegan activism and recently I tried drawing chalk messages, which I’ll keep doing from time to time.

You’re vegan now; were you vegetarian before?
No, but I guess I was a flexitarian for a few months. What I mean is I knew I was going vegan, that it was the right thing to do, but I needed some time to adjust and learn to stand up for my decisions. During that time I never bought anything non-vegan myself, but I ate animal products at parties and other people’s places a few times. I tried to justify it by telling myself that I wasn’t creating demand in these situations, but I stopped doing that as soon as I realised how messed up what we do to animals is. I can’t consume products of violence, it doesn’t matter who paid for them.

What led to that?
I’ve been trying to live as sustainably as I can for about four years now. I seek out new eco-friendly habits, and look at what I can improve in my lifestyle, and this was how I came across the zero-waste movement. I started watching some videos about it and one of the vloggers kept mentioning that she was vegan because she cared about the environment, and that you couldn’t be zero-waste if you consumed animal products. I looked up how bad animal agriculture was in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, water and land use, and energy consumption, and felt I couldn’t consciously contribute to something so terrible.

I knew that the end goal for me was being vegan, but, sadly, I couldn’t switch overnight. During that time the environmental arguments were the most important to me and I didn’t really think about ethics.When I finally let the ethical side of things sink in, I couldn’t possibly delay going vegan any longer. If you only care about the environment, an occasional piece of non-vegan cake is not that big a deal I think, but when you know of all the suffering that went into making it, you can’t possibly eat it.

How long have you been vegan?
It will be a year soon! About nine months at this point.

Do you see yourself ever going back to being an omnivore?
No, absolutely not. I cannot imagine what would have to happen to make me stop caring. How could I consume animal products being aware what it means? How could I consciously choose to contribute to animal abuse?

Are you a ‘healthy’ vegan? Often people assume we’re all fitness-obsessed, when the reality is that we come in many flavours and for many people life is an eternal hunt for vegan cake. What makes up your diet?
It depends. When I’m not too lazy and cook for myself at home, it’s usually very healthy. I never liked using a lot of oil, and, because I strive to live without producing any waste, I cook mostly wholefoods – that’s all you can buy without packaging. But when I go out to eat I don’t really care how healthy it is. I like an occasional greasy vegan burger or some vegan cake.

Where do you shop?
I go to regular shops for bulk fruits and vegetables, and vegan junk food once in a while. I buy my grains and legumes at a zero-waste shop, sometimes I get spices there, too. And when I want something special like vegan cheese or yoghurt I have to go to a vegan shop – regular supermarkets either don’t carry them over here, or they are ridiculously overpriced.

Do you consciously think about where you get your protein, etc, from?
Not really. I used to track what I eat in Cronometer, but after I was sure my diet is balanced enough I stopped doing it. Now I only check it maybe once a month, just for fun.

For many vegans, the initial realisation of facts that make us turn to a different lifestyle is pretty life-changing and alienating. We view things differently, from the supermarket shopping experience in a meat-eating world to the people around us. How was that change in mindset – the reality of being an outsider in many situations – for you?
Yes, it was shocking. Sometimes it feels surreal when I accidentally go into the meat aisle in a supermarket – there are literally corpses lying in the fridges and people are buying them. That’s just so weird. And there are live fish right next to the produce section in one shop I sometimes go to – it makes me feel so bad. It’s frustrating that they are still alive but I can’t help them. I’m used to being an outsider – Continue reading →

‘Not only are you eating rotting flesh, you are also consuming the suffering and pain the animal experienced’

Everyday Vegans
A series in which ordinary people talk about living a plant-based life


Our latest contributor is Tash, an Australian surfer who believes vegans have a moral obligation to bear witness to the cruelty of the meat industry – and speak up

Everyday Vegan Tash

I’m from Perth, Western Australia, and have completed 25 orbits around the sun. I have been a swimming instructor and lifeguard since I finished high school in 2010. I have a bachelor degree in outdoor recreation, which I have not yet used for a career, due to the fact that I have been travelling the world since I finished studying in 2016. I have travelled to 35 countries in the past few years and stay overseas each year for about three to five months at a time. I love to travel alone and explore the world freely doing whatever I wish, whenever I wish.

I grew up in the great outdoors and a majority of my childhood consisted of numerous camping trips in the remote regions of Western Australia, swimming with dolphins, going boating to islands, surfing and many other wild adventures. I am an experienced surfer and have travelled to Indonesia on 13 occasions to surf some of the best waves in the world. I also surfed the world’s longest wave in Peru last year – it was incredible!

From a very young age, I dreamt of being a marine biologist because I was intrigued by the big blue ocean and the animals that coexisted within it. I owned endless amounts of marine science books and I would spend hours reading them and drawing marine animals. I could name just about every dolphin and whale species that existed. I was also a huge environmental advocate – I remember always telling my younger brother off for using too much water or leaving the lights on.

Everyday Vegan TashI became vegan on February 1 2017, and decided to make the change overnight from carnist to vegan. I had watched a documentary called Food Choices on Netflix and it immediately made me want to change my lifestyle. The documentary covered the health benefits of a plant-based diet, the health risks of animal products, animal cruelty in the meat, dairy and egg industries, and the environmental devastation that these industries cause upon the planet.

My mind was completely opened and I knew from that day onwards, I would be vegan for life. I had always been so conscious of my health, loved animals, and cared significantly about the planet. I had just never realised that animal products were so harmful to one’s health, that you can’t love animals and eat them and that animal agriculture was the primary cause of climate change as well as so many other environmental issues.

My diet consists predominantly of whole foods as I love being healthy, energetic and want my life to be the highest quality as possible. Everyday I have a banana, kale and blueberry smoothie and a big fresh quinoa and chickpea salad. I still love indulging in vegan burritos, ice cream and brownies though.

Many people think that you have to be careful about getting enough nutrients on a vegan diet, but I’ve never had to worry thanks to whole plant-based foods. After all, I am eating the only diet on this planet that is known to prevent and even reverse disease.

I have honestly never been healthier in my life; I love the quote “my body is a garden, not a graveyard”, because it is so true. If you consume animal flesh and secretions, you are not only eating rotting flesh and secretions that are not designed to be consumed by humans, but you are also consuming the suffering and pain that an animal experienced throughout its whole life, including its brutal murder.

In a non-vegan world, it is definitely difficult living in everyday life because your eyes are completely opened to the enormous amount of cruelty that our species inflicts upon millions of innocent animals each day. Seeing “meat” on someone’s plate is a dead animal and it is seriously confronting and can take an emotional toll. I am a passionate animal rights activist, so I often bear witness to animals before they are killed at the slaughterhouse, which makes everyday life even more difficult.

But in the end, it is important to stay as positive as possible and remember that the real ones who are suffering are the animals, and vegan activists are the only voice that they have. Spreading awareness is the only thing that is making the vegan movement grow. Yes, of coarse it is fantastic to become vegan and not participate in animal cruelty, but as a vegan, we have a moral obligation to stand up for these animals and make the word realise how unjust it is. As Martin Luther King Junior said, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.

I am involved with an amazing vegan community here in Perth. We have really stepped up our game recently and many of our actions have been making it into mainstream media Continue reading →

An independent review of Alexandria Crow’s DeConstruct to ReConstruct, a scientific path to the roots of yoga

REVIEW: Alexandria Crow’s DeConstruct to ReConstruct

Alexandria CrowOne of the premises behind this course is that many of the postures used in popular yoga classes – including many considered basic – require our joints to work beyond their functional range, or that for which the body has evolved to be healthy. Doing this repeatedly has the potential to injure you, as many modern yogis have discovered and are increasingly admitting.

Indeed, Alexandria Crow, pictured, was one. She was a popular mainstream teacher of the kind of flashy vinyasa-style practice that is the bread and butter of the studio industry, twice even gracing the cover of the magazine Yoga Journal. Her musculoskeletal system eventually ended up so damaged that at one stage she was unable to walk – not what yoga was designed to do.

The year-long DeConstruct to ReConstruct course is the result of her intensive anatomical and neurophysiological studies to figure out what went wrong, and how to practise yoga safely. It’s all there in the name: you learn to deconstruct the major yoga postures that crop up in lessons these days, precisely identifying where they might be resulting in potentially harmful stresses to the joints, then reconstruct them in a functional way.

The course is delivered via online webinars, each lasting up to two hours or so. You can watch live when they’re delivered if the time zones work for you (Alex is in the US in California) or view a recording later. To start with, there are five introductory sessions once a week for five weeks, before the course settles into a long-haul pace of a monthly update for a year. The sessions are backed by a comprehensive PDF work manual, links to related material online and a closed Facebook group for discussions with Alex and other students.

At first glance, the material seemed a little daunting to me. The deconstruct/reconstruct process is quite technical to start with – you measure the angles of joints with a piece of equipment called a goniometer and compare what you find with ranges considered functional. Once you’ve done it a few times, though, the process rapidly becomes intuitive (to the point where I soon stopped using my goniometer); when you know what functional is, you know what its opposite is and can investigate how to work with it.

There’s a lot of anatomy in the course, but it really comes to life because it’s 100 per cent functional. My previous studies in this area have been very dry and textbook driven, primarily learning the names of bones and muscles and describing their actions in academic language. Here, however, you learn how it all works in real humans, an absolute joy for someone who previously hated studying anatomy and did so only to pass exams. Clearly, if you’ve done some anatomy before it’ll help, but I don’t think it’s essential for this course – this is what it teaches you.

All very geeky sounding, I know, but the material is delivered in a such a relaxed, natural way that the process of learning it is extremely enjoyable. Each webinar is a skilful mix of scientific content interwoven with discussions applying it in a very practical way to all areas of yoga, from body politics and accessibility to class planning and the ancient philosophy underlying the practice. Continue reading →

‘Veganism is critical to the future of the planet, important beyond my personal concerns for animal welfare’

Everyday Vegans
An occasional series in which ordinary people
talk about living a plant-based life


For our latest contributor Tracey, being vegan means that every day she stands for something, every choice a contribution to a cause bigger than herself

Everyday Vegan Tracie

Tell us a little about yourself…
I’m a 54-year-old American woman currently living at my house in Fasano in Puglia, Italy. I moved here three years ago from Los Angeles. I have four rescued dogs and a rescued fish. I worked both in the advertising industry and as a fundraiser in the non-profit sector raising money for higher education and environmental conservation. I am the co-founder and producer of a production company that is developing a new streaming vegan travel/cooking series, launching in a few months. I also help run a business called Skull Pup that sells personalised apparel and accessories that honour our dogs. And we support dog rescue.

You’re vegan now, were you vegetarian before?
I became a vegetarian in 2000 and transitioned to vegan after moving here to Italy. I would say I have been vegan for about two years.

What led to that?
I was driving on a highway near Seattle in the US and passed a truck full of chickens on their way to slaughter. Something clicked that day and I stopped eating meat and fish. It obviously took a while for me to realise the hypocrisy of still eating cheese and eggs, while claiming the importance of animal rights. I am so thankful that today there is so much information available on the dairy and egg industries so we have no illusion about their cruelty.

Do you see yourself ever going back to being an omnivore?
Never. I couldn’t live with myself.

Are you a ‘healthy’ vegan? Often people assume we’re all fitness-obsessed, when the reality is that we come in many flavours and for many people life is an eternal hunt for vegan cake. What makes up your diet?
I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a “junk food” vegan. But I do have a diet full of food that spans the spectrum of healthy. Just like anyone, I try to strive for balance. Living in Italy, we get such amazing produce that it’s not ever a sacrifice to consume fruits and vegetables. But I do mix in some processed meat and dairy substitutes. And snacks like popcorn. I love popcorn!

Where do you shop?
I shop in small bakeries and fruit/vegetable vendors here in Puglia. But also large grocery stores that have an increasingly diverse offering of vegan foods. It’s very cool that we have two shops here in Fasano that specialise in vegan food.

Do you consciously think about where you get your protein, etc, from?
Not so much. Protein intake is not something that concerns me. I seem to be doing just fine. I suffer from lupus, but I am in clinical remission. Yay! I have perfect cholesterol and triglycerides and blood pressure. However, as a 54-year-old woman I am conscious of my diet in terms of bone health, etc. My doctor regularly monitors my vitamin D levels. And I do understand the need for B12.

For many vegans, the initial realisation of facts that make us turn to a different lifestyle is pretty life-changing and alienating. We view things differently, from the supermarket shopping experience in a meat-eating world to the people around us. How was that change in mindset – the reality of being an outsider in many situations – for you?
I would be lying if I were to say that I don’t feel like the “oddball” in many situations. People’s reactions to my diet/lifestyle run the gamut from curious, to admiring, to critical and sarcastic. And I do sometimes tire of going to restaurants where there is ONE menu item that caters to my needs. However, that is rapidly changing. Dining options for vegans are expanding, more people are aware not just of animal cruelty but the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. So they are more receptive to what I am doing. I love going to London, New York, Los Angeles, and doing tours of the ever-growing list of vegan restaurants.

Do you mix with many other vegans – does your lifestyle mean that you come into contact with people of a similar outlook regularly?
I have only a few vegans in my immediate circle of friends and family. But I can see them shifting to more of a “flexitarian” lifestyle. I suppose I am grateful for that. However, especially because of my new vegan production project, I am increasingly connected online to the global vegan community. That gives me hope every day.

Do you live in a meat/dairy eating household? And if so, how is that?
Not really. I live in an adjoining house with my ex-husband (strange, I know). He is about 90 per cent vegan, 10 per cent vegetarian. My own house is vegan, however.

Do you feel you have more in common with vegans than the majority of other people who don’t believe plant-based is the way forward?
I suppose being vegan immediately gives you something very fundamental in common. But the vegan community is so diverse, of course I find commonality with some more than others. Admittedly, I am more positively predisposed to someone if the first thing I learn is that he/she is vegan.

Do you, as most of us have to, eat out with non-vegans often and how do you feel about their eating choices?
The majority of people with whom I eat out respect my choices. And many alter their eating when with me, including letting me choose vegan restaurants. There are a few who take pleasure Continue reading →

‘Vegans need a sense of humour. If we act sullen and grumpy all the time, nobody is going to want to be like us’

Everyday Vegans
An occasional series in which ordinary people
talk about living a plant-based life


Our latest contributor is social media campaigner John Oberg, who believes a vegan world is inevitable but requires skilful effort to spread the word

Everyday Vegan John Oberg

Tell us a little about yourself…
I’m a 31-year-old living just outside Washington DC, focusing on making the world a better place for animals by utilising the power of social media.

You’re vegan now; were you vegetarian before?
I have been vegan for nine-and-a-half years. I was vegetarian for 10 months before going vegan. Most vegans transition into veganism, which I think is often the best approach. This way, the change isn’t so sudden and drastic that you just throw in the towel.

What led to that?
I initially had a conversation with someone who said to me, “If you love animals so much, maybe you shouldn’t eat them.” The thought stuck with me, and I went vegetarian on principle. I intended to go vegan, and was easing my way towards it, slowly cutting out dairy and eggs. Then I watched the documentary Earthlings and went vegan immediately.

Do you see yourself ever going back to being an omnivore?
I will never eat meat, dairy, or eggs again. Going vegan was the best choice I’ve ever made. I haven’t second-guessed the decision once in nearly a decade of being vegan.

Do you consciously think about where you get your protein, etc, from?
I track my protein intake because I am a powerlifter and want to make sure I am able to properly build strength. But for most people, tracking your protein intake is not necessary. It’s practically impossible to be protein-deficient. Plants have protein!

Do you mix with many other vegans – does your lifestyle mean that you come into contact with people of a similar outlook regularly?
I try to stay out of the “vegan bubble”. It’s important for vegans to maintain contact with people who don’t think like them. This way, we don’t lose our ability to influence others. If we only associate with other vegans that seems like a huge missed opportunity to reach the general public. It also makes us lose touch in understanding how others think and feel. In order to best influence, we need to know this.

Do you seek out vegan groups and forums online?
When I first went vegan in 2009, I found some local vegan groups in Phoenix, Arizona (where I was living at the time) through the website Meetup. Having a community made my transition into veganism and launch into activism much smoother than it otherwise would have been.

Are you involved in any form of activism?
I use social media as my main form of activism. By utilising the tools at our disposal, we can make a massive difference.

How do you feel about the vegan jokes… you know, that vegans can’t go five minutes without mentioning the fact or they explode?
I think vegans need to have a sense of humour. Even if people are poking fun at us, have fun with it and you’ll find that people will be much more open to our message. If we act sullen and grumpy all the time, nobody is going to want to be like us.

How do you think we best ‘convert’ omnivores to a plant-based lifestyle? And do you actively try to do this?
We can get people to eat more plant-based foods by hitting people with the ‘why’ and then the ‘how’. My specialty is the ‘why’. Why should people stop eating animals? Many others specialise in the ‘how’, with resources like recipes, meal ideas, etc. Some of my favourite websites to direct people to are Veganuary and ChooseVeg.

Are you positive about the future of veganism?
As I’ve said in the past, a vegan world is inevitable. How quickly we get there, however, depends entirely on how effective vegan activists choose to be in their messaging and approach.

If you are interested in sharing your thoughts in our Everyday Vegans slot, please get in touch and we’ll let you know what to do.